Grace jumped at the sound, her mind instantly slamming back into control.
"What is that noise?" he growled.
Grateful for the interruption, Grace struggled out from under him, her limbs trembling, her entire body burning. "It’s a phone," she said, before leaning over to the night-stand and grabbing it.
Her hand actually shook as she brought the phone to her ear.
Cursing, Julian rolled to his side.
"Selena, thank goodness it’s you," Grace said as soon as she heard her voice.
Oh, how she was grateful for Selena’s ability to know the precise moment to call!
"What is it?" Selena asked.
"Stop that," Grace snapped at Julian as he licked his way down her bare bu**ocks. She pushed him back and put a little more distance between them.
"I’m not doing anything," Selena said.
"Not you, Lanie."
The other end fell as silent as the grave.
"Listen," Grace said to Selena, her voice sharp with warning. "I need you to get some of Bill’s clothes and bring them over. Now."
"It worked!" The piercing shriek almost splintered her eardrum. "Oh, my God, it worked! Hallelujah, I can’t believe it! I’m on my way!"
Grace turned the phone off just as Julian’s tongue traced a path from her bu**ocks to her…
He pulled back and gave her a shocked frown. "You don’t like it when I do that?"
"That’s not what I said," she answered before she could stop herself.
He moved back to her…
Grace bolted from the bed. "I have to get ready for work."
He propped himself up on one arm and watched her while she picked up his discarded pants and tossed them at him. He caught them with one hand as his gaze wandered leisurely over her body. "Why don’t you call in sick?"
"Call in sick?" she repeated. "How do you know what that is?"
He shrugged. "I told you, I can hear during my confinement. It’s what allows me to learn languages and understand changing syntax."
Like a graceful panther coming out of a crouch, he pulled the blanket back and moved slowly from the bed. His pants forgotten. His body still fully erect.
Mesmerized, she couldn’t move.
"We didn’t finish," he said, his voice low, deep. He reached for her.
"Oh, yes we did!" She ran for the safety of the bathroom and locked the door behind her.
Clenching his teeth, Julian had the sudden urge to put his head through the wall in frustration. Why was she being so stubborn?
He looked down at his stiffened body and cursed. "And why won’t you behave for five minutes!"
Grace took a long, cold shower. What was it about Julian that made her blood literally boil? Even now she could feel the heat of his body on hers.
His lips on her…
"Stop it, stop it, stop it!"
She was not some nymphomaniac who couldn’t control herself. She was a Ph.D. with a brain-and no hormones.
Yet it would be so easy to just forget everything and spend the next month in bed with Julian.
"Fine," she said to herself. "Let’s say you do crawl into bed with him for a month, then what?"
She soaped her body, her aggravation dispelling the last of her desire. "I’ll tell you what. He’ll be gone and you, sister, will be left alone again.
"Remember what happened after Paul? Remember what it felt like to wander around the dorm, sick to your stomach because you let someone use you? Remember how humiliating it was?"
Worse, she could still hear Paul’s mocking laughter as he bragged to his friends and collected his bet. How she wished she’d been a man long enough to kick open the door to his apartment, and beat him to smithereens.
No, she wouldn’t let herself be used.
It had taken her years to get over Paul and his cruelty, and she wasn’t about to undo all that on a whim. Not even a gorgeous whim!
Nope, nope, nope. The next time she gave herself to a man it would be to someone who was committed to her. Someone who cared for her.
Someone who wouldn’t disregard her pain and continue to use her body for his pleasure as if she didn’t matter, she thought, her repressed memories resurfacing with a vengeance. Paul had acted as if she weren’t even there. As if she were nothing more than an emotionless doll designed only to serve his pleasure.
And she wasn’t about to let anyone, especially Julian, treat her like that.
Julian walked downstairs and marveled at the bright sunlight streaming through the windows. It was funny how people took such small things for granted. He remembered a time when he too had never noticed anything as simple as a sunny morning.
Now, every one was truly a gift from the gods. A gift he would savor for the next month until he was again forced to live in darkness.
His heart heavy, he headed into the kitchen and to the large cupboard where Grace stored her food. As he opened the door, the coldness inside amazed him. He spread his hand out, letting the rushing air wash over his skin. Incredible.
He picked up various containers, but couldn’t read the writing on the labels.
"Don’t eat anything you can’t identify," he reminded himself, remembering some of the disgusting things he’d seen people eat over the centuries.
Bending over, he searched until he found a ripe melon in a bottom drawer. After taking it to the island in the center of the kitchen, he picked a large knife out of a block where Grace kept a dozen of them, and cut it in half.
He sliced a piece of it off and placed it in his mouth.
Julian growled low in his throat as the delectable moisture washed over his tastebuds. The sweet pulp made his stomach rumble with a demanding need. His throat ached for more of its soothing wetness.
It was so good to have food again. To have something with which to quench his thirst and hunger.
Before he could stop himself, he set the knife aside and started grabbing at the melon, shoving pieces of it into his mouth as fast as he could.
Gods, but he was so hungry. So thirsty.
It wasn’t until he found himself clawing at the rind that he became aware of his actions.
Julian froze as he stared at his hand covered with the melon’s juices, his fingers curled against the side like the claw of some beast.
"Roll over, Julian, and face me. Now, be a good boy, and do what I tell you to. Touch me here. Mmm… yes, that’s it. Good boy, good boy. Please me well, and I’ll bring you some food in a little while.
Julian flinched at the unbidden memory from his last incarnation. No wonder he acted like an animal; he’d been treated like one for so long, he barely remembered being human.
At least Grace hadn’t chained him to her bed.
Disgusted, he glanced around the room, grateful Grace hadn’t seen his lapse of self-control.
His breathing ragged, he grabbed the melon half and pitched it into the trash receptacle he had seen Grace use the night before. Then he moved to the sink to wash the sticky sweetness from his hands.
As soon as the cold water touched his skin, he sighed in pleasure. Water. Pure and cold. It was what he missed most during his confinements. What he craved hour after hour as his parched throat burned and ached.
He let the coldness slide over his skin before he captured it in his cupped hand, leaned down and drank the water from his palm, sucked it from his fingers. It was so soothing as it invaded his mouth and slid down his burning throat, slaking his thirst. He wanted nothing more than to be able to climb into the sink and feel the water slide all over his entire body.
He heard a knock on the door followed by rushing foot-steps on the stairs. Turning off the water, Julian reached for the dry cloth next to the sink and wiped off his hands and face.
As he returned to the other half of the melon, he recognized Selena’s voice. "Where is he?"
Julian shook his head at her friend’s enthusiasm. Now that was what he’d expected from Grace.
The two women entered the kitchen. He looked up from the melon and met brown eyes as wide as a Spartan shield.
"Holy green guacamole!" Selena gasped.
Grace folded her arms over her chest, her eyes twinkling in a cross between anger and amusement. "Julian, meet Selena."
"Holy green guacamole!" her friend repeated.
"Selena?" Grace waved her hand in front of Selena’s face. Still Selena didn’t blink.
"Would you stop?" Grace chided.
Selena dropped the clothes in her hands straight to the floor and moved around the kitchen until she could see his entire body. Her gaze started at the top of his head and went all the way down to his bare feet.
Julian barely suppressed his ire over her actions. "Would you like to examine my teeth next, or would you rather I drop my pants for your inspection?" he asked with more malice than he’d intended. She was, after all, technically on his side.
If only she’d close her mouth and quit looking at him that way. He’d never been able to stand such unnatural attention.
Selena hesitantly reached out her hand to touch his arm.
"Boo," he snapped, making her jump a foot into the air.
Selena frowned and glared at both of them. "All right, you two. Are you through making fun of me?"
"You deserved it." Grace picked up a piece of melon that he’d just sliced and placed it into her mouth. "Not to mention that you get to take him with you today."
"What?" Julian and Selena asked in unison.
She swallowed her bite. "Well, I can’t very well take him to work with me, can I?"
Selena smiled wickedly. "I bet Lisa and your female clients would love it."
"And so would the guy I have coming in at eight. However, it wouldn’t be productive."
"Can’t you cancel?’ Selena asked.
Julian concurred. He had absolutely no desire to go anywhere public. The only part of his curse that he found even remotely tolerable was the fact that most of his summoners kept him hidden in private rooms and gardens.
"You know better," Grace said. "I don’t have a lawyer hubby who supports me. Besides, I don’t think Julian wants to hang around the house by himself all day. I’m sure he would like to get out and see the city."
"I’d rather stay here with you," he said.
Because what he really wanted to do was see her writhing beneath him again, feel her slick body sliding down the length of his shaft as he made her scream out in ecstasy.
Grace met his gaze and he saw the hunger that flickered in the light gray depths of her eyes. In that instant, he knew her game. She was going in to work to avoid being around him.
Well, sooner or later she’d be back.
Then she would be his.
And once she surrendered to him, he was going to show her just what kind of stamina and passion a Spartan-trained Macedonian soldier was capable of.
The morning seemed to drag by as Grace went through the usual round of clients. No matter how hard she tried to focus on them and their problems, she just couldn’t quite succeed.
Over and over, she kept seeing deep, tawny skin and searing blue eyes.
And that smile…
How she wished Julian had never smiled at her. His smile could definitely be her undoing.
"… so then I said, Dave, look, if you want to borrow my clothes, fine. But leave off my expensive designer dresses ’cause when you look better in them than I do, then I just want to give them to the Salvation Army. So, was I right, Doc?"
Grace looked up from her pad where she was doodling pictures of stick men holding spears.
"What, Rachel?" she asked the patient who sat in the armchair across from her.
Rachel was an elegantly dressed photographer. "Was I right to tell Dave to leave off my clothes? I mean, damn, it’s pretty bad when your boyfriend looks better in your clothes than you do, right?"
Grace nodded. "Absolutely. They’re your clothes and you shouldn’t have to lock them up."
"See, I knew it! That’s what I told him. But does he listen? No. He can call himself Davida all he wants to, and tell me he’s a woman in a man’s body, but when it comes down to it all, he still listens to me like my ex-husband did. I swear…"
Grace inadvertently checked her watch again. Her hour with Rachel was almost up.
"You know, Rachel," she said, cutting her patient off before Rachel could begin her routine spiel about men and their annoying habits. "Perhaps we should hold on to this until our Monday session with Dave?"
Rachel nodded. "Will do. But remind me on Monday that I need to talk to you about Chico."
"The Chihuahua that lives next door. I swear that dog is giving me the eye."
Grace frowned. Surely Rachel wasn’t implying what she thought she was. "The eye?"
"You know. The eye. He may look like a pooch, but that dog has sex on his mind. Every time I walk by, he looks up my skirt. And you don’t want to know what he did to my running shoes. The dog is a pervert."
"Okay," Grace said, cutting her off again. She was beginning to suspect there was nothing she could do for Rachel and her obsession that all males in the world were dying to possess her. "We will definitely cover the Chihuahua’s infatuation with you."
"Thanks, Doc. You’re the best." Rachel grabbed her bag off the floor and headed out the door.